I like to start a new weekly post with something to think about. The following is not only enlightening and interesting, but expresses its argument in a clear way: http://techcrunch.com/2018/03/05/when-venture-capital-becomes-vanity-capital/

Thanks again, Tyler Cowen: http://marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2018/03/one-smart-guys-frank-take-working-major-tech-companies.html

“Power Point” has been added to my list of two-word phrases that generate fear, loathing and an urge to head for the exit. Others are “Family Tennis,” “Native Entertainment” and “Panel Discussion.” Here’s a good critique: http://armedforcesjournal.com/essay-dumb-dumb-bullets/

Yesterday I watched an absolutely marvelous “American Experience” documentary on “The Gilded Age.” It’s available on PBS streaming. There are numerous striking parallels with the present day. Among the most striking is a plug for “trickle down economics” enunciated in around 1880 in pretty much those words exactly – a full century before Laffer, Kudlow and those other clowns would announce they’d discovered the economics equivalent of gravity. 

Always provocative – but I do wish Taleb was a better writer: https://medium.com/incerto/what-do-i-mean-by-skin-in-the-game-my-own-version-cc858dc73260   (Thanks to The Browser)

Yours truly has long held that the three worst influences on golf have been the USGA, Augusta National Golf Club and the money-mad dwarf who recently retired as head of the PGA Tour. http://www.golfchannel.com/video/walker-glover-rip-usga-over-distance-issue/?cid=Email_WednesdayNL_20180307

Amen (from Ryan Sutton’s Eater review of the new Joel Robuchon joint): “Questions of relevance aside, what’s frightening is how representative L’Atelier actually is of contemporary New York. It symbolizes a city overrun by an affluent corporate monoculture, from boutique spin classes that charge thousands for yearly memberships to fast-casual salad chains that don’t take cash to sushi chains where a $200 starting price almost seems like a break.” https://ny.eater.com/2018/3/7/17084180/latelier-joel-robuchon-nyc-review

People are talking about Jane Mayer’s New Yorker  piece about the Steele dossier. I don’t endorse the following (thanks, Naked Capitalism)  – on what basis could I? – but think it should be read: http://www.moonofalabama.org/2018/03/the-new-yorker-attempts-but-fails-to-boost-the-steele-dossier.html 

Fortunately for Icahn, past performance means he has a closetful of asbestos trousers: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-03-07/icahn-says-had-no-knowledge-of-tariff-before-selling-steel-stock


Just for the fun of it: https://dealbreaker.com/2018/03/donald-trump-proves-immune-to-gary-cohns-mesmeric-grundle/?utm_source=Dealbreaker+Newsletters+Master+List&utm_campaign=72c9fc4b56-MAILCHIMP_DB_DAILY&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_7b7b809044-72c9fc4b56-410840457

So what do I know? Nothing – it’s clear. The Christopher Wool painting I mocked in last week’s post made $15 million in London, 2 1/2 times its estimate. 

How about this? https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-03-07/magic-leap-raises-461-million-from-saudis   And what does this company do? “The Florida-based company, which employs about 1,400 people, is working on an augmented reality headset that superimposes 3-D virtual images on the real world.” Please somebody tell me what this device is for. Another big leap in the U.S. economy’s conversion to the manufacture of distraction. 


At the Metropolitan Museum in New York, however, it is clothes that have been causing a stir of late. Indeed, as 26-year-old New Jersey resident Eliza Vincz discovered last weekend, one should think twice before dressing up for a visit to the institution. Vincz, who describes herself as an ‘historical seamstress specializing in late 18th and early 19th century big fashion’, had volunteered to take part in a tour of the institution’s costume department, wearing a blue silk taffeta dress she had made based on period clothing.

But within moments, as she writes on her ‘Silk and Sass’ blog, Vincz was ‘accosted’ by a security guard, who told her that her costume ‘would distract [other visitors] from the museum’, and asked to leave the premises. Vincz claims that the zealous Met employee implied that she had stolen the costume, saying that she was ‘treated like a criminal’. To add insult to injury, she says, she was stopped by the same guard on her way out, who once again told her to leave. ‘I have never been so embarrassed in my life,’ Vincz states. Talk about a costume drama…


It is rare to have a truly celestial restaurant experience, but last night we did. Tamara and I were the guests of my old friend John Dobkin at Meadowsweet, the Williamsburg restaurant founded,  and run by his son, Michelin-starred chef Polo Dobkin, and Polo’s wife Stephanie. The restaurant is at 149 Broadway (up and across the street from Peter Luger). For a restaurant experience to be heavenly, the gastronomic stars must be in perfect alignment and shining their brightest. These are food and drink, venue, staff and atmosphere. All matter greatly to me, but as readers of this space know, I am especially keenly sensitive to the last: the problem with restaurant life in NYC today is that in too many places one finds oneself surrounded by people who have more money than is good for either them or us and who behave according to a code whereby “rich” equals “sophisticated.” People who measure their social standing in terms of the deference of headwaiters. The crowd at Meadowsweet displayed none of these traits (only one young women spent her meal studying her smartphone screen; these phones have a lot to answer for, but top of the list is that they prevent one from ever leaving the office, as it were, or the office from leaving one alone – and I can happily report that I saw no Instagramming). The menu, again unlike many places with virtuoso chefs (see Pete Wells’ recent NYT review of Joel Robuchon’s new joint), actually offered dish after dish that one would really want to eat. Look up the menu online (www.meadowsweetnyc.com). My choices were tasty to the point of rapture. And, of course, a restaurant that offers The Famous Grouse as the house scotch has got me by the short and curlies before I’ve even looked at the carte. The staff and service, like the cooking, were light years beyond complaint. The place has a great look: spacious, comfortable and uncomplicated: “rich but not gaudy” as Polonius advises his son. As the evening progressed, my mind and palate kept returning to Joseph Wechsberg’s essays on dining at La Pyramide when Point was still alive. I didn’t see the check, but places like Meadowsweet can’t give their food away, and so it’s a simple matter of estimating the cost, comparing that to the family budget and scheduling one’s visits accordingly. At any price, a dining experience of this overall, all-around quality represents sublime value. As we drove home, I couldn’t but conclude that Meadowsweet is what happens when a family notable for its refinement, artistic taste and sophistication produces a son or daughter who turns out to be a kitchen genius. 

The totals made at this week’s auctions in London by Christie’s, Sotheby’s and now Phillips seem to confirm the sagest remark about the art market I’ve ever heard. It was made at the end of the 1980s art boom, when the market, bulled by the the likes of British Rail Pension Fund and new Japanese money,  regularly achieved prices that defied the imagination. A seasoned observer of the art world was asked whether he thought the art being bought was worth what was being paid for it. “it’s not that the art isn’t worth the money,” he answered,  “it’s that the money isn’t worth the money.” Hard to look at today’s valuations (sic) and shrug this off. 

This makes a lot of sense: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/07/opinion/oscars-irrelevant-decline-ratings.html?action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=opinion-c-col-left-region&region=opinion-c-col-left-region&WT.nav=opinion-c-col-left-region

This is the deepest-rooted reason I  detest the swine in the White House: http://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2018/03/08/making-america-great-again-one-ruined-family-time/8quCtIIFUMnfIdfXhtATRM/story.html?s_campaign=breakingnews:newsletter

Nonetheless, balance argues that some credit is due: https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2018-03-09/manufacturing-keeps-adding-jobs-amid-trump-s-tough-talk

Good stuff: https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/1948/03/oscar-night-in-hollywood/305705/

My pal Tunku knocks it out of the park: https://www.wsj.com/articles/will-putin-ever-leave-could-he-if-he-wanted-1520635050

Another friend’s four-bagger: https://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2018/03/michael-hudson-trumps-travesty-protectionism.html


Michael Hudson’s observations above prompt speculation as to what Trump Tower might have coat had the steel used in its construction been subject to a 25% tariff. Of course, Der Dreckstuck would have taken any cost disadvantage out of the already-submarket wages of the undocumented Polish workers who built the building. 

Thanks, Naked Capitalism, for posting this: http://www.thebookoflife.org/the-secret-sorrows-of-over-achievers/

Good stuff here: http://crimereads.com/val-mcdermid-on-the-remarkable-rise-of-tartan-noir/

One cannot look – at least I can’t – at the history of this country without concluding that there is a real causal connection between what has been worst about us and our history and the omnipotent belief in the sanctity of property that lies at the heart of the American experiment.Whether that property is another human being or an AirBnB unit that violates one rule and regulation after another, matters not: Property rules. That is it. If yu don’t like it, well, go to war – which is what we were obliged to do in 1860. https://www.citylab.com/equity/2018/03/what-airbnb-did-to-new-york-city/552749/?utm_source=nl__link1_030918&silverid=MzEwMTU3NDcxNjczS0


This article illuminates the distinction and suggests the cause/effect connection that links ignorance and stupidity: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/10/style/the-man-who-knew-too-little.html?emc=edit_ta_20180310&nl=top-stories&nlid=2476992&ref=cta

This is what I consider really good journalism: written to a point and written well: https://www.thedailybeast.com/the-curse-of-666-fifth-avenue-the-skyscraper-that-could-sink-the-kushners?via=newsletter&source=Weekend

Finally, as I pour another tequila and contemplate setting the clock ahead, this: http://kunstler.com/clusterfuck-nation/another-quandary/


Amen: https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/opinion-mastromonaco-trump-blackmail_us_5aa1ab97e4b01b9b0a398ad4

Phenomena like Jordan Peterson interest me, although since I don’t do social media, I have only a vague idea of them and rely on online commentary like this: https://lareviewofbooks.org/article/a-messiah-cum-surrogate-dad-for-gormless-dimwits-on-jordan-b-petersons-12-rules-for-life/#!

Hard to argue with: https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/blockchain-technology-limited-applications-by-nouriel-roubini-and-preston-byrne-2018-03?utm_source=Project+Syndicate+Newsletter&utm_campaign=c44f3b5fc9-sunday_newsletter_11_3_2018&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_73bad5b7d8-c44f3b5fc9-93490385

No comment: https://www.motherjones.com/politics/2018/03/russian-connection-what-happened-moscow-inside-story-trump-obsession-putin-david-corn-michael-isikoff/


Amazing (thanks again, Tyler Cowen): http://marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2018/03/worlds-biggest-field-experiment.html

My own observations indicate there’s something to this. And this doesn’t take into account the self-generated (decency prevents me from using the descriptor “phony”) rates of return that many PE firms report to their investors.  http://prospect.org/article/national-security-agencies-have-spoken-private-equity-ownership-imperils-americaI can’t help thinking of today’s PE investors as “mullets,” the term we used in “the awl bidness” to characterize the people we inveigled into drilling deals. And I urge my friends to do as I do. Read http://marginalrevolution.com/ first thing every morning. 

No comment needed: https://niskanencenter.org/blog/tale-two-moralities-part-one-regional-inequality-moral-polarization/   Just imagine if America was governed according to the values on offer and on parade in Brooklyn, where the Clinton campaign foolishly, and with an astonishing display of  social and political tone-deafness, located its headquarters. Would the country be better off than it is with Dreckstuck in the White House? In the perceptual short-term, probably – certainly less cringe-making. But over the longer run? I’m just not so sure. 

Since I took myself off social media (except Instagram, where I follow only family and certain art-historical “‘Grammers”) I read Farhad Manjoo’s NYT  piece about absenting himself from infelicity with a high degree of agreement – notwithstanding that I feel there’s something “off” about the fellow. Well… https://www.cjr.org/analysis/farhad-manjoo-nyt-unplug.phpSo here’s the fun part, assuming this CJR report is accurate. Manjoo clearly delivered “fake news” that misled his readers. Will NYT  can him, as they should? They’re denying that Manjoo put out an untruth. Bullshit! 

Double Amen! https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2018-03-12/share-buybacks-work-better-in-theory-than-in-practice


Commentary on the “ignorance><bliss” correlation that deserves consideration: https://felix.substack.com/p/nota-bene-ignorance-is-bliss

From “the Browser” (bless ’em!) a fascinating story: https://www.buzzfeed.com/anthonycormier/felix-sater-trump-russia-undercover-us-spy?utm_term=.jgVzxKyE5#.nbv91GyJb

Dreckstuck is trumpeting that a GOP-dominated congressional committee has cleared the Trump campaign of any collusion with overseas internet meddlers. I’m puzzled: did Russia meddle – which the committee confirms – without any point? We have in place an administration that operates by coded winks and shrugs; collusion need not be noisy. 

Dreckstuck has announced that Tillerson is departing as Secretary of State. I’ve read somewhere that the White House is resisting efforts to pin the latest exotic poisoning, in the UK, on Russia. So is this why Tillerson got canned? (From The Guardian):   “The US secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, said the attack “clearly came from Russia” and would have consequences. His remarks went further than those of prime minister, Theresa May, who told the House of Commons on Monday it was “highly likely” Russia was behind the attack.” Did Putin pick up the phone and order Dreckstuck to fire Tillerson or else…? Non-collusively, of course.

Further to Mr. Manjoo (above) this program note from WNYC’s “On the Media”:  “**Note: This program originally contained an interview with the New York Times’ Farhad Manjoo discussing an experiment in which he got his news only from print journalism and “unplugged from Twitter and other social networks” for two months. That interview was pulled after further reporting revealed that he did no such thing.**”


The Met Opera’s firing of James Levine strikes me as the worst sort of institutional exhibitionism. There have been rumors about Levine and young boys for as long as I can remember. Presumably Bing or Chapin should have taken him aside somewhere along the way and said “Jimmy, there’s a lot of whispering going on…” but of course back then people looked the other way. So why not let Levine resign, rather in the spirit of Edward VIII: “In the face of the rumors and innuendo…etc etc…I can’t do my job”? 

Dreckstuck appears to have taken it on the chops in PA. Those “epic crowds” he boasted of in Moon Township – EPIC CROWDS? MOON TOWNSHIP! – seemed to have forgotten to vote. Interesting he’s been tweetless on the matter – instead engaging in 140-character bloviation in typical gutless fashion of his fealty to and admiration for the Halls of Montezuma, as if one can acquire gallantry, or honesty, or bravery, or character – qualities unknown to, and undiscoverable in our current First Magistrate – simply by talking about them.